Sunday Messages

Sun, Jan 20, 2019

Prayer Variety

Listen to the January 20 message "Prayer Variety" from Life Church St. Louis. Learn what the Bible has to say about different kinds of prayer. To have the most effective prayer life, you need to learn and practice a variety of prayer types. In this message, we explore prayers of confession, supplication and intercession. Discover how prayer can be an adventure.
Duration:31 mins 11 secs

In this new year, we’re in a message series called “Prayer Adventure.” What is a prayer adventure? The dictionary defines adventure as “an exciting experience that is typically a bold, sometimes risky, undertaking.” So, how can prayer be an adventure? First of all, prayer can be an exciting experience because you’re communicating with an all-knowing and all-powerful God. The excitement comes not in presenting a laundry list of requests to Him, but in hearing what He has to say to you. Excitement comes when God answers your prayers that are prayed according to His will. In what ways is prayer a bold undertaking?

Hebrews 4:16 (NLT2) So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

We can come boldly and confidently to God’s throne for help because of what Jesus has done for us. Finally, prayer is risky, because God will invariably ask you to do things you don’t think you can do, things you think may be risky and things that require faith. Not only should prayer be an adventure, but the adventure of prayer will lead to adventure in your life, as you follow God’s direction.

Last Sunday, we talked about prayer as 2-way conversation with God. Prayer is the way that we strengthen and build our relationship with God. Just like we build our relationship with our spouse or with our friends through talking to them.

Today, my message is entitled “Prayer Variety.” We mentioned last Sunday, that most of us tend to emphasize asking God for things from our prayer lists in our prayer times. Now, for those who are married, what would happen to your relationship if the only time you communicated with your spouse was when you asked them to do something for you? If you’re not married, you can ask the same question regarding one of your friends. I think in both cases you would have a relationship issue. Continually asking someone to do something for you is downright selfish, isn’t it.

Now there’s nothing wrong with asking someone for something sometimes, but the asking should be reciprocal. And there should be other types of communication as well. Thee same is true in prayer. We need to grow in our ways of communicating with God.

1 Timothy 2:1 (ESV)  First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,

Here we see a number of different kinds of prayers mentioned. Today, we’re going to look at three different expressions of prayer: confession, supplication and intercession. So, let’s begin with

Prayer of confession

The first type of confession is confession …

For the forgiveness of sins

The Bible says that we all sin and I would submit, based on the Lord’s prayer, that we all sin on a daily basis if we’re honest with ourselves. So, when we sin, how should we pray? Let’s look at an example prayer from the Bible. The story is that King David fell into deep sin. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. Then to try to cover up his sin, David had Uriah killed. At first, David tried to cover up his sins of adultery and murder, but God sent Nathan the prophet to confront David and Psalm 51 is David’s response.

Psalm 51:1-2 (ESV) Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

We see David now confessing his sin to God and asking for God’s forgiveness based on God’s mercy. David goes on to ask for God to work in his heart and to cleanse him of the root of this sin, so he would never do it again. At the close of the psalm, David prays …

Psalm 51:12 (ESV)  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

We see a true repentance in David’s prayer which you can read the whole psalm for yourself. Not only does David pray to be forgiven, he desires for his heart to be changed and for his relationship with God to be restored. The second type of prayer of confession is to …

Declare God’s character and power

In this second type of prayer of confession, we confess our faith in God, often by declaring our confidence in God’s Word. As the book of Psalms is really the prayer and song book of the Bible, let’s look at the most famous of David’s prayers, the 23rd Psalm, which is a prayer of confession.

Psalm 23:1-2 (ESV) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

David is confessing or agreeing with God’s Word that the Lord is his shepherd. The Lord will take care of David’s needs. The green pastures and the quiet waters refer to David’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs. We could go through the whole psalm, but let’s just look at the last verse.

Psalm 23:6 (ESV)  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

David confesses that God will be with him for his whole life and that he would spend eternity with God. He was declaring God’s character and power for his life.

Both types of prayers of confession should be part of our daily prayer life. As we are prone to sin on a daily basis, confess your sins on a daily basis. If you really think that you don’t sin much, just ask your spouse or the Holy Spirit and they will remind you of your sins. 

The second type of confession prayer may not be as well known. One of the best ways to confess or declare God’s character and power is by praying Scripture. It is a way both to learn, to apply and build your faith through God’s Word. The easiest way to do it is to simply personalize the Scripture.

The first verse of Psalm 23 would be prayed like this “You Lord are my shepherd and I lack nothing. You make me lie down in green pastures and lead my beside quiet water.” You could change the green pastures to some of the ways that God has provided for you and so on.

You can pray through much of Scripture with prayers of confession. I’m still working on how to pray through the genealogies, so if you figure it out, let me know. The next type of prayer is the …

Prayer of supplication

Supplication isn’t a word that we use a lot today. According to the dictionary supplication is a “form of prayer where you humbly or earnestly ask God to provide something.” In other words, it is a prayer requesting God to do something. These prayers can be directed several ways. You can …

Pray for your needs

Philippians 4:6 (ESV)  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

In the first part of this verse, we see a bonus of prayer. Prayer is the antidote for worry and anxiety. Rather than worrying, we should pray. Worry should be a red flag warning you that you should be praying. What do we tend to worry about? We worry that our needs won’t be met in the future. So, those are the things that we should request and ask God to help us in. As we noted last Sunday, we must add thanksgiving to our prayer requests.

What should we be thankful for? We can be thankful for God’s past blessings and answers to prayer. And we can be thankful for God’s answers to our requests that will be coming in the future. What happens to our worries and anxieties when we pray to God for our needs?

Philippians 4:7 (ESV)  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The peace of God which is the direct opposite of worry, will guard our hearts and minds. What does God’s peace guard us from? It guards us from Satan’s attacks of worry, anxiety and fear. Not only should be pray for our needs, we should also …

Pray for other’s needs

Ephesians 6:18 (ESV)  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

In this verse, the saints refers to other believers. This would be the other believers that you personally know in our church, as well as missionaries and other believers that you know elsewhere. This verse in Ephesians 6 is in the context of spiritual warfare, which we’ll cover in more detail next Sunday. Yet, it makes clear that we are to pray regularly for other’s needs. Keeping alert so that we know the needs and praying with perseverance until the answer comes. We must pray in the Spirit, which means through the Spirit’s guidance.

God’s wants our prayers balanced, not just praying for our own needs, but also praying regularly for other’s needs. One way that you can do that is by being part of our Life Church Prayer Team. We ask simply that you make a commitment to praying at least 5 minutes a day for our church family. We will provide an online Prayer Guide that will give you guidance, as well as give you text alert when there are urgent prayer request in our church. You join the Prayer Team by texting the word “Pray” to our text number 636-442-0210. We encourage every member and regular attender to be part of the Prayer Team. God doesn’t want you to be overly burdened by other’s needs and He will guide you by His Spirit what to pray for. The last expression of prayer we’re going to talk about is the …

Prayer of intercession

Intercession is the action of praying on behalf of another person. So, our last point of praying for other believer’s needs is a form of intercession. In this point, we want to expand on other aspects of intercession. Intercession can be …

Stand in the gap for others

Ezekiel 22:30 (NIV2011)  I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.

This verse is where we get the expression of intercession as standing in the gap from. In this passage in Ezekiel, God was going to bring judgment on Israel for her sins and wickedness. In this verse, God is speaking of looking for someone to stand in the gap between sinful Israel and a holy God and intercede. The intercession would be to ask for God’s mercy to prevent destruction and judgment from coming. Yet in this particular case, God found no one willing to intercede.

We have a different situation in Deuteronomy 9, where the people of Israel began worshipping a golden calf idol, while Moses was on the mountain getting the 10 commandments. God was going to destroy all of Israel for their rebellion and idolatry, but Moses stood in the gap.

Deuteronomy 9:25-26 (ESV)  “So I lay prostrate before the LORD for these forty days and forty nights, because the LORD had said he would destroy you.  And I prayed to the LORD, ‘O Lord GOD, do not destroy your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand.

To prevent God’s judgement from falling, Moses interceded for 40 days and nights for the preservation of the nation of Israel. And God heard Moses’ prayer and relented from His judgement. In order to intercede, we need …

The Spirit helps us intercede

Romans 8:26-27 (ESV)  Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Especially when you’re interceding for others, you often do not know exactly how to pray for them. You may not know many of the details of the situation or the person. These verses in Romans 8 are a wonderful promise of the Spirit’s help with our intercession. When we are weak and don’t know how to pray according to God’s will, God’s Word promises that the Holy Spirit will help us.

The primary meaning of the Spirit interceding with groanings too deep for words is prayer in tongues. When a believer prays in tongues, the Spirit is praying through you, even though your mind does not know what He is praying. When the Spirit prays through you, we can be assured, that He is interceding according to God’s will. Prayers prayed according to God’s will are always effective and answered. Sometimes, when you ask for the Spirit’s help in prayer, He will tell you what you should pray for with your mind as well. The Spirit is there to help us intercede for others when we pray with our spirits and with our minds.

Let’s think for a minute about the most important prayer that you can pray for others. The most important prayer that you can pray for your relatives, friends and workmates is to pray for their salvation. In those prayers, you will be truly standing in the gap for them. You will be standing between them and an eternity in hell separate from God. As you pray, God will move in their lives and draw you to Himself. And guess who He will give opportunities to be a witness to those you are praying for? Most often, God will give you an opportunity to talk to the people you are praying for about Jesus or to invite them to church. Not only will the Holy Spirit help you pray for them, the Holy Spirit will work in their lives to bring them to salvation. Make a list and pray diligently for those in your life who don’t know Jesus and for those whom you don’t know whether they know Him. We all need to grow in our prayers of intercession.

 Today, we’ve looked at a variety of types of prayers that God has made available for us to use. We have prayers of confession, both for forgiveness of sin and declaration of God’s Word. Next we learned about prayers of supplication, praying for both our needs and the needs of others. Finally, we learned more about prayers of intercession, standing in the gap for others as the Spirit enables us. May God help our prayers, individually and as a church family, more powerful and effective in this New Year of 2019.